Sunday, May 04, 2008

Iron Man, as seen by someone who has not seen nor read the comics

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was the last time Michele & I were in an actual cinema, back in 2005, about a week or so before James was born. needless to say, it has been rather tricky to find the time to go ever since he arrived!

however, with so many decent films on the way in 2008, we felt that it was worthwhile making the effort to go to the cinema for a change, instead of waiting for the DVD release. the first of the decent films to come out was Iron Man. if we were a normal couple, i would want to see it for the love of the comic book; Michele for a glimpse of Robert Downey jr. us being us, the reverse is true - Michele has, apparently, always been a fan of the comic (something which i have never seen nor read), and i am a big admirer of the talents of Robert. mostly his on-screen talents, but off-screen he is also the personification of "class".

mindful of the above, i can only comment insofar as the film in itself, for i know not if it is a faithful or decent adaptation of the original comic. i trust that there are some out there reading this that such a slant will be of use!! i will try and make this a spoiler free review, but as i am not familiar with the character, sorry if one or two slip through.


Iron Man centres around Tony Stark, genius billionaire, being confronted with the reality of the weapons from which he and his family have made their fortune. with a whole new perspective on life, he sets about trying to right the wrongs of his inventions, from his own perspective at least - one notes that he is "selective" about who may and who may not keep his weaponry.

this, nonetheless, is something he does in the guise of the titular Iron Man, a rather impressive, hard to destroy protective suit that has a wide range of weapons on board, and indeed gives Mr Stark the capacity to fly.

so, is it any good? yes, in short. If there are two types of "superhero", being plausible (Batman) and implausible (Superman, Spider-Man), this one leans to my preferred of plausible. granted, to accept the science of the film you have to be prepared to accept that science as we know it could be re-imagined via an alternate breakthrough (much like the excellence of The Prestige), yet if you can take that approach then the technology presented by Iron Man is not too difficult to accept. it was, after all, only some 40 years ago that a telephone not connected to a cable or wire was viewed as being impossible.

this is very much an "origins" film, as there is little time spent in the film as "Iron Man" proper. you get some prototype suits and plenty of action sequences, but if you want to see just the red and yellow tin man flying around for two hours, well, rather go and get a video or disc of the cartoon.

the film would appear to cater for both fans of the comic and strangers to Iron Man alike, as both of us enjoyed the film and could follow it with ease. apparently, i missed many references to other characters that exist in the Iron Man universe going on what i have read on the interwebnet after seeing the film, which presumably means they are subtle enough to appease the fans but not central enough to mean you have to know who and what certain people and things are to appreciate the film. a nice balanced job, then.

the only real downside to the film is Jeff Bridges. he's an actor that i, with many others, think is wonderful, but in this film he seems to be in a pedestrian, going through the motions mode. one wouldn't want him to be particularly OTT or flamboyant in his role, but at least appearing somewhat interested would have been a bit of a bonus. for all i know his character is supposed to be all bland and as presented, but i somehow suspect not really.


the rather dour appearance of Jeff Bridges is emphasized no end by the sheer brilliance of Robert Downey jr.

call me a Downey apologist if you will, but it seems that the man is incapable of delivering anything short of astonishing work in all that he appears, even if it is a mere "comic book adaptation", as some actors would certainly sneer. if playing a playboy billionaire is hardly a stretch for the talents of Downey, then at least he does so with substantial dedication to the script and story. Robert plays the character, not some acting stand-in to help bridge all the special effects and action sequences together. much of the plausibility mentioned above relies on the audience accepting a well defined protagonist, and it is difficult to see anyone else but Robert delivering the part of playboy-genius-philosophical Tony Stark to the perfection on display here.

looking at the initial box office receipts for the film it hardly needs me to encourage people to go and see it, but a word of warning - we saw a number of young children in the cinema, far too young for the intended audience of this. whilst not overtly graphic, some of the action scenes contain disturbing images and rather harsh overtones. kids? don't take them unless they are at least 10. as a guide, more violence is on display than there is in Spider-Man, but it is not quite as harsh as that shown in Batman Begins.


we (or rather Michele) did buy James a rather smart Iron Man action figure to play with, however. Michele also kindly bought me the one pictured here, the closest you can get to your very own Robert Downey jr toy!

ideally you would want a Robert Downey jr action figure in a suit, so you could have him messing around with other toys. like, for instance, ahem, playing with Barbie, or taking the Batmobile for a spin and so forth. however, what i have is rather smart, and it will certainly do until such time as they go ahead and make a Robert toy that is just Robert.

the only other thing i can add is what a great soundtrack. oddly Black Sabbath's original song Iron Man doesn't seem to be heard, but a rather decent cover commences the end credits.

oh, and by the way, if you have not been to see it yet, make sure that you stay until the end of the credits. there's a rather impressive sounding bit on the end that we missed, sadly - do not make the same mistake!

so, there's the film. as for going to the cinema for the first time in almost 3 years, i was somewhat disappointed to find that they no longer sell class nachos, but the popcorn and coke was fine all the same. conventional coke, that is, not the stuff that Robert tended to have an enthusiastic appreciation for. i was also delighted to notice not one person messing around with their cellphone during the film - nice one, finally it seems people are going to the movies to watch a film, and not to talk to people who are not there.

as for the next cinema venture, probably Indiana Jones And The Really Long Title About A Crystal Skull. i wasn't that fussed about it, but once you see the iconic image of Indy on the big screen, well, you are sold, you want to go. after that it will be The Dark Knight, of course.


be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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